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The Addictive Sinner

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How can we overcome and be FREE of our self-destructive desires, habits and sins?

"JUST SAY NO!" says the familiar sticker concerning drugs. If you were to tell this to a drug addict, it would be like telling a thirsty man who had been wandering in the desert for three days, to "Just say no" to a tall, cool glass of water. What about us? Can we just say NO to sin? If you are an addictive sinner, there may be a chance you cannot. The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 7:15-19 :

"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate I do."

How many times have we said, "I want to do better but I just can't do it." In like fashion we know what is right and what we should do. Yet we find ourselves falling prey to this addictive pattern again and again.

The most powerful addictive sins are those that appeal to the human appetite. It can be smoking, the abuse of drugs and alcohol, sexual perversion, harboring anger, and the list can go on.

The question that naturally arises, is, ARE ALL SINS ADDICTIVE? Let's consider this point, addiction is the product of habit and habits are fueled by desire. Desires, in and of themselves are not bad, it's only when our desires are misdirected that sin takes place. Desire, either good or bad, demands your attention. As you repeatedly give in to desire, the behavior becomes entrenched through repetition and a destructive habit has been formed. What are your desires? Since it is desire that can lead to habit and habit to addiction, it may be safe to say that all sin has an addictive characteristic. Take away the addiction and you are left with the ability to choose between right and wrong by the power of the conscious mind and human will power.

Preston Bradley once said,

"I've never met a person, I don't care what his condition, in whom I could not see possibilities. I don't care how much a man may consider himself a failure, I believe in him, for he can change the thing that is wrong in his life anytime he is ready and prepared to do it. Whenever he develops the desire, he can take away from his life the thing that is defeating him. The capacity for reformation and change lies within."

There have been many men and women who have overcome great obstacles in their lives, solely dependent on their power of will. However, on the other hand, you have the reality of addictive sin.

The reality the addictive sinner needs to acknowledge is this. You have traveled a long way down a one-way street. As you traveled, there were many intersections, from which you could have exited and turned around. But as you traveled, the exits became fewer until you found yourself on a one-way street traveling at an incredible rate of speed and out of control with no power or desire to turn your life around, the will to change at all vanished.

The problem is, before our calling, we lived a life almost void of any directional will. We took the cuts and bruises thinking all the time, "I'm in control." At the same time, being ignorant of God's will in our life. Then since our calling, we will often find ourselves in "a strait betwixt two." Having a desire to please God and overcome, but on the other hand, we have the reality that a mere conscious decision or futile human willpower simply isn't enough. In Romans 8:7, we read,

"Because the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."

So we find that overcoming is a process. This process will involve repentance, unconditional surrender and accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, which implies that there is a personal method by which God will deliver you. God will work with us individually, and how He works with you may differ from the person sitting next to you.

How does the sinner overcome? The power to overcome must come from God, through the spirit of God dwelling in you to redirect your will and desire. It isn't just a matter of God giving you the added strength to overcome. Nor is it just a matter of God repairing the old nature. It is, however, a matter of God constructing a new life, similar to how a road crew will go out to build a brand new interstate highway. All of the little shortcuts and side roads you have traveled have been in the wrong direction. Now, it is time for God to construct a new life. It takes tearing down the old and, yes, plowing new ground. This road will be one in which to travel from death to life. The key word is TRAVEL. Too many times the sinner stops dead in his tracks, not knowing whether to quit, turn around or detour. Yet with the help of God , the sinner has to pick himself up and continue to travel the timely road that will lead to recovery and life.

The words, "time is a healer," could not be more eloquently expressed when it comes to the addictive sinner. Honesty is an important factor when it comes to the addictive sinner overcoming. There are no fronts that you can put up between you and God. You stand naked before God with all desires, motives, intentions of the heart exposed before God.

Let's consider a valid question. How much can a sinner expect from God? Think about what God has already given, first a conviction of sin plus our Savior and High Priest, Jesus Christ, who sits at the right hand of God ready to make intercession for us, then the very spirit of God has been given. After God has given us all this, how can we say that it's not enough, that we need all temptation taken away. On the night Jesus Christ was betrayed, he cried out to the Father, "If it be possible, let this cup pass from Me." He was not ashamed to admit his fear and weakness to God. He recognized a need and went to the one who was able to strengthen and encourage him. Can you say to God to take all temptation away? Yes, you can, but you may find that just like Christ, the cup was not removed, for God has something greater in mind for you. God doesn't intend for you to have "immediate liberation" but wants to develop in you and me the necessary qualities that he wants in his children.

The addictive sinner can take comfort in the words of Jesus Christ when Peter asked him,

"Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Till seven times?"

Jesus said unto him,

"I say not unto thee, until seven times, but until seventy times seven." (Matt. 18:21-22).

There is no finite number of times you can be forgiven. Though the addictive sinner must render himself powerless before God. The addict has nothing to give, nothing to offer to God. To acknowledge our sin opens the door to the bountiful mercies of God and to the greatest power of all, the power of God. Part of Christ's sacrifice was to be rendered powerless. As our Savior hung on the stake, he felt the presence of God fading away, then in agony cried out, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" But there was no answer, no one to reach to, no one to help, "Powerless". Truly, we have a Savior that can be touched with the feeling of our weakness.

There comes a crucial time in the sinner's life when he is able to stand on his own two feet. Many of us are familiar with the poem, "footprints in the sand," it is beautiful commentary on man, in his relationship with God. The turning point for the addictive sinner is that God has carried you to the point of reality. Now it is time to make some footprints in the sand and stand on your own two feet.

The greatest need the addictive sinner has is freedom. Unless you are free to turn yourself into the person you want to be, you will never be free. You will always be a slave to the desires, habits, and sins that rule over you.

"What does the Lord your God require of you, to walk in all his ways, to live him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I command you this day for your good." (Deut. 10:12-13).

God does not require the impossible.

Do you want to be free from habit, free from addiction, free from sin? Of course you do. God knows your heart, he also knows the power of your weakness, your ability or inability to overcome. Jesus Christ said,

"And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free."

The sinner must be shown the truth and once having obtained truth, the sinner can mark down his or her experience as precious pearls in the hands of God. Then the addictive sinner can truly be free.

Written by: David Freeman